Gerard Houarner, Writer
Stories you don't always take home to Mother...


cover art by GAKDead Cat Bounce, A Fable to Horrify the Inner Child

Horror Writers Association Stoker Award Short Story finalist for 2000
by Gerard Houarner, illustrated by GAK


Ordering Information

By the way, there is a very fetching T-shirt available with Gak's cover image on the chest encircled by the logo Dead Cat, He's Back, available from Space and Time. Be the first on your block to own a Dead Cat T-shirt! Black on ash, available from Space & Time. Ten bucks, postage paid, name your size. Special deal if you buy the chapbook along with the shirt!


This poignant story manages to mix Don Marquis' Mehitabel with Karloff's Mummy in a charming creepy-funny fashion, a tone captured perfectly in numerous B&W drawings by a mysterious artist known only as GAK.
Paul Di Filippo, Asimov's Science Fiction, May, 2001, Dead Cat Bounce

Gerard Houarner. Write story. Use minimal language. Make R.C. Matheson seem wordy. You. Read chapbook. Laugh and squirm. Fun. No bounce back to publisher.

Garrett Peck, Hellnotes, Dead Cat Bounce

...DEAD CAT BOUNCE, a delightful fable that will horrify your twisted inner child. A strange hybrid of short story and comic book, DEAD CAT BOUNCE defies accurate description. Suffice to say, it is unlike anything done before and wonderfully so. Houarner has created a unique blend of poetry and prose; a literary assault that rolls off the page and picks through your brain like razors.

Brian Keene, Master of Terror website, Dead Cat Bounce

On an entirely different plane is Dead Cat Bounce. Subtitled "A Fable To Horrify The Inner Child," it delivers on that promise with a blend of the most bizarre illustrations, the blackest humour, and that uniquely pragmatic and fantastic Houarner is justly famous for. This is a fable with a guffaw and a shudder, never allowing us to move too far from these extremes.

Dead Cat Bounce is that book you lend to friends, just to see if you can appall them, the gift that earns you searching glances from everyone else at the party. And it is a well-camouflaged look at that mythical "fairness" of life. Most of all, it is a risk Houarner took that flails wildly but lands solidly on its feet.

Lisa Dumond, MEviews, SF Site, Dead Cat Bounce

Very enjoyable. I read it aloud to my wife and she nearly laughed up a lung.

Robin Sprigg, writer, Dead Cat Bounce

This is a narrative poem, or perhaps it's a graphic chapbook. Interspersed throughout the whole story are bits and pieces of satire or commentary on humans, religion, process, and other things. The artwork is complementary and perfect in execution. The whole package is quite nicely done and I'd recommend it.

Steve Sawicki, The Skeptic Tank, Scavengeršs Newsletter, Dead Cat Bounce

Why Dead Cat Bounce,
an unreasonable explanation by Gerard Houarner and Gak

(Reprinted from Jobs In Hell #51, an online marketing newsletter -- for further information, contact Brian Keene at or visit Jihad Publications at:

In twenty-three years of writing, Dead Cat Bounce, A Fable to Horrify the Inner Child is the first story I've written that has ever provoked consistent questioning from readers about its origin. People shake their heads, usually after just looking at the title and Gak's cover, and ask, why did I do this? Sometimes, after reading it, they ask, how could I do this? The latter question is for psychologists to answer. The former I can address.

Ever since I discovered Joe Lansdale's My Dead Dog Bobby, I've wanted to do a children's story. A fable for adults and children, balanced between primal realities and social necessities. Something that was fantasy, but with a dark emotional core that children experience directly in their daily lives and adults rarely remember.

The ground was prepared by meeting Gak at the Atlanta World Horror Convention. Of course I had seen his work, and he had even illustrated one of my stories for an Australian magazine. We hung out in the bar with other writers and artists and had a good time, I came away with the vague notion that we should do something together. It would be fun. In discussing possibilities, we both agreed we should do a chapbook length project, something relatively cheap to produce and sell, something to carry around at conventions that was not too expensive for a casual purchase and might grab some attention. And most importantly, we wanted the book to serve as an introduction, a calling card, to our work.

At the time, I was working on solidifying parts of the outline for Road From Hell, the third book about a character Max and his twin lovers, Kueur and Alioune. (The first, The Beast That Was Max, will be published by Leisure in June, 2001.) I needed a messenger to communicate between a character in hell and others in a borderlands area. Then I read an article about the an Egyptian excavation which revealed the practice of raising animals to be mummified so they could carry pilgrims' messages to the gods. I had my messenger. But the idea haunted me, nagged me. What was up with this cat? How did it feel, being a messenger?

The idea took off when I found the title. While listening to a stock market report, one of the reporters referred to a mild run-up on a stock during after hours trading as a dead cat bounce. What!? Is that phrasing legal? I've been asked to change story victims from animals to people by editors sensitive to animal cruelty, so this bit slang was a revelation. It served the story, it was shocking, and still new enough to be unknown by most people. It was mine.

Finally, I had to find a voice. One of the key elements of a successful, even classic, children's tale is voice. Dr. Seuss is the most obvious example. Poking around in the children's section of the local Barnes and Noble didn't reveal anything inspiring (writers will understand that as an inability to find anything worth stealing). So I went back to the character, shifting back and forth between third to first person. I researched cat psychology. I remembered cats I've known and lived with. Finally, the more I looked at the world through cat eyes, the leaner my thinking became until I found a spare, direct voice, grounded in basic cat drives. No singing, dancing, poetry, boots, fencing, Broadway productions or French fairy tales. I pared down sentences even while preparing the final copy for publication. As for publication, well, I have to admit I cheated. I work for Gordon Linzner as Fiction Editor for Space & Time magazine. As in any small press venture, there's no payment involved, just the satisfaction of being involved in a high class operation and giving other writers an opportunity for publication. However, the relationship does give me an "in" with the publisher. Thankfully, I didn't have to send it through the mail with a proposal letter -- I handed the story over to Gordon, who scratched his head and shrugged his shoulders and told me to go ahead. Equally fortunate, Gak also liked the story and was practicing drawing dead cats, awaiting for the go ahead.

Gak's stunning art came back, Gordon and I laid out the book, and it was produced in time for a release at NECon, where it was given away as a goodie-bag freebie instead of the usual copy of Space and Time which Gordon normally gives out at the convention. One writer shook his head, saying I had just wiped out my prime market, but making money off this project wasn't the primary objective. (Writers, as any small press publisher will tell you, are too damned poor to buy that many books and magazines, anyway.) The book created a nice buzz at the convention and has received some good reviews in the few months since its release. More importantly, it was a lot of fun to do. And lastly, we are making a little bit of money as I invariably sell a copy or two at gatherings, along with an occasional Dead Cat T-shirt (Dead Cat, He's Back). The bottom line is that I have something provocative and amusing to wave in front of people at panels and readings (a la Mark McLaughlin), which will hopefully serve as a lead-in for my other work (and Gak's, as well). People rarely spring for an expensive hardcover collectible book, or even an expensive trade paperback, from an author they do not know or are only vaguely familiar with. But Dead Cat Bounce is an alluring alternative -- a picture book, dark, funny (in a sick sort of way, of course), and cheap. And who knows, there might be a future in fables that horrify the inner child.

If only MTV would return my calls...

From GAK

When Gerard and I first discussed the possibility of putting a chapbook together I immediately jumped at the chance, sight unseen. A cat, sacrificed to Bast, sent to hell as a messenger and dragging itself back to the land of the living thru an act of sheer willpower. How could I possibly pass this up?

I had also been trying to put together an anthology/graphic novel of stories based upon GAKART...and though I had gathered together an impressive stable of authors, few publishers were up to the task of producing the book. Dead Cat would be a perfect introduction to what I had in mind for the anthology, though not based on GAKART it certainly was in sync with my sensibilities.

Days after World Horror I received via email the story, Dead Cat Bounce...printed it out and putting my feet up on my drawing table began to read. And grew more and more perplexed. Through the magic of computer technology...or my own idiocy when dealing with said technology, the story had printed out as one long, run-on sentence with no breaks for paragraphs or spacing. Looking at the pile of other work waiting to be completed before Dead Cat, I tossed the story on my "to do" pile, where it sat. And sat. For days. For weeks. Months passed.

Finally I picked the story up again and began breaking it down into manageable bits, alternating hot pink highlighter with hot orange. I began downloading every breed of cat picture I could find me, there are a shitload of them out there. But none were Dead Cat.

The greatest part of the story was the minimalist way it was written. It gave me total freedom in creating my very own version of hell and its inhabitants.

The pile of sketches grew as time grew shorter. Gerard was a saint. Occasionally asking what was up with the story and accepting my cryptic replies that I was bounce bounce bouncing along with my dead cats. But none of the cats were quite right. He had to be just right, just scary enough and yet still cute in a weird kinda way. Then my own cat, Capt. Blood, leaps upon my shelves, knocks over a glass of water and spills it upon the story. Hot pink and orange watercolor marker begins to flow and ooze, blurring the writing, totally obliterating it in some instances. Fortunately I had the story and visuals floating in my head all ready and was just waiting to nail down Dead Cat himself. I screamed. I yelled. I stomped around the house cleaning up the mess whilst Capt. Blood watched in amusement as cats are known to do. I looked at him sitting there. Blood is a Persian who, alas, I don't keep groomed as well as i should. He tends to have tufts of fur sticking out in every direction without rhyme or reason. Though he doesn't look much like the Dead Cat drawings, the attitude and general scruffiness is there. I sat down, started drawing, and Dead Cat was born.

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